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GCI’s Thrifty Runway shows that Halloween fashion can be sustainable

Halloween is one of the most anticipated holidays on college campuses, where it is often celebrated with an array of events. An abundance of candy, scary movies and celebrating with friends is enough to lure even the busiest college students away from their schoolwork. While college students may be too old to trick-or-treat, finding a costume and going to local bars or just dressing up with friends is a fun way to observe the holiday. But buying costumes only to toss them in the back of your closet after one night is not environmentally sustainable, and the Green Campus Initiative (GCI) has some better ideas.

On Oct. 31, in the Memorial Union, the GCI and Student Life sponsored the “Thrifty Runway.” Students dressed up and showed off their costumes made out of entirely recycled or upcycled materials.

“Halloween is a big holiday where people buy something that they’re just going to wear for one night. So, promoting this idea that we can pull together things that we already have or things that are easily recyclable, like cardboard, it’s really very useful in reducing waste,” said Dominique DiSpirito, a second-year political science student and event coordinator for GCI.

A wide range of outfits made an appearance at the Thrifty Runway; Scarecrows, witches and pumpkins were prominent on the runway. Using makeup that they already had, clothing items that could be repurposed or bought at a thrift store and items made out of fabric scraps and household items, the Thrifty Runway showed that it was possible to make an affordable, wearable costume out of second-hand materials. Other students stepped out of the typical Halloween spectrum and dressed up as a sports referee, a bumblebee, intergalactic recycling bots and even a recycling basket made their debuts down the runway.

The Thrifty Runway took place during the UMaine Center for Student Involvement’s Thursday Thriller from 7-10 p.m. in the Union. Other events hosted during the night were campus ghost tours, a spooky paint and sip, and hanging donut races.

The GCI is located on the fourth floor of Androscoggin Hall, where there is a Green Living Learning Community, a residence floor supported by GCI where students can choose to live in a community that prioritizes sustainability. They also host weekly tea times, seasonal activities and volunteer opportunities. They also sponsor zero-waste events throughout the school year, and they partner with Dining Services to reduce waste products at dining and residence halls.

“We host food recovering once a week. We go to the dining halls and get the food that they have leftover on Fridays and then we bring it all to the Black Bear Exchange right here on campus. It gets packaged up and distributed back to the community,” Aidan Lurgio, a wildlife ecology student said.

They also produce the “GreenZines” which are semi-monthly zines, or one-page magazines, featuring sustainability-related material focused on the UMaine community. They are found on bathroom stall doors in all residence halls.

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